The road to my MPAGB* – more about the journey than the destination.
In 2010, with early retirement approaching, someone asked what I planned to do with my time. My response of ‘take up photography’ was surprising, even to me! Shortly afterwards I purchased a DSLR, joined Harrow Camera Club and began building my skills, aided by courses, photographic holidays and competitions. My leaving gift of an experience voucher was invested in a Wildlife photography day, regular photography outings to nature reserves followed and, as I enjoy travelling, camera gear soon became an essential part of my luggage.
When a Waxwing image gained me my first PAGB medal in 2013 the photography bug really began to bite. Over the next two years I achieved my LRPS and ARPS and my images were being selected for interclub competitions, with some gaining recognition in regional federation competitions. A few wins and shortlisted images in national and international competitions followed and in 2017 I was awarded my DPAGB, taking me one step closer to that coveted MPAGB.
When my Bald Eagle image was accepted into the 2018 Masters of Print, I was motivated to apply for my MPAGB but soon afterwards began to wonder if I had overstretched myself. At the Photography Show I enquired at the PAGB stand about mentors and, with a mentor duly assigned, I began building my shortlist of images, seeking input from many others along the way.
My post-processing required a rethink. It was light touch and aligned with the rules for wildlife photography, rules which do not apply in the Awards for Photographic Merit. Those distractions deemed acceptable in wildlife competitions had no place in an MPAGB submission and a steep Photoshop learning curve ensued.
Printing and mounting also required a new approach. Until then my home printing was on standard photographic papers with one colour choice of mount. It was clear that print quality and mount selection were also going to be important. I experimented with papers from various manufacturers, reprofiled my monitor, installed custom paper profiles and saw my print quality improve. Permajet papers were chosen, Gold Silk for the majority of prints, Portrait White for those with snow and Titanium Lustre for images with water. My thought process was endorsed when my Sea Otter image was selected for the 2019 Masters of Print and thus my MPAGB submission was finalised. The rest, as they say, is history.
A lot of work, many new things learned but an immensely satisfying outcome.
*MPAGB – Master of The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. Defined as ‘The highest Standard of Amateur Photography’.